Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

Seven Fallen Feathers is a book that ALL Canadians need to read. The book tells the story of seven students who moved to Thunder Bay to attend high school and died. It also describes the impacts and experiences of systemic impacts of colonialism, residential schools and generational trauma.

Here are excerpts of a slide deck with the information that was discussed at an office book club that I lead. it has details about the seven students, the communities that they came from and the generational impacts of residential schools.

Seven Fallen Feathers remembers these seven students who were loved, had much potential and had travelled up to 500 km away from their families just to attend secondary school which was not available in their own communities. Some of these communities were only accessible by flight or winter roads. Imagine the culture shock to move away from your families to board with other people, not having ever seen a street light or been to a city. Rest In Peace:

  • Kyle Morrisseau
  • Jordan Wabasse
  • Curran Strang
  • Jethro Anderson
  • Robyn Harper
  • Reggie Bushie
  • Paul Panacheese

It is important to know you province and country, I challenge you to learn about First Nations communities in Ontario:

Did you know that there are 133 First Nations Communities in Ontario?

Did you know that there are 630 First Nations Communities in Canada?

It is important to learn more about the communities in Canada. Here are a couple slides to share the beauty of Mishkeegogamang First Nation.

As part of our learning, we also learned more about the legacy of generational trauma from Indian residential schools.

Did you know?

  • An estimated 150, 000 children attended residential schools
  • 6000 children are estimated to have died
  • 130 schools were across Canada from 1831 to 1997
  • The Mohawk Institute in Brantford was open in 1831
  • The Gordon residential school was the last one to close in 1996
picture from the Woodland Cultural Institute website

You can take a virtual tour of the Mohawk Institute for a donation to the Save the Evidence campaign. It is a heartbreaking walk through the building with stories told by survivors. I am thankful that my children have spent time learning at the Woodland Cultural Centre on school trips as this did not happen when I was in elementary or secondary school.

Tanya’s book also shares the resilience of communities that had already lost so much, coming together to search for the students, to support each other through the inquest and celebrates the art of Norval Morrisseau, Christian Morrisseau (see the book cover) and Kyle Morrisseau. It is a great reminder to check out the beautiful art.

I have read Seven Fallen Feathers twice. As we read the news of the discovery of bodies on the grounds of residential schools across Canada, I think of what I have learned from Seven Fallen Feathers. It is so important to listen and learn so if you have not read this book, I would recommend it. It is a difficult read but readers have the privilege of putting it down, taking a break unlike these students and their families who cannot take a break.

Tanya Talaga and I at the FOLD Festival

Have you read Seven Fallen Feathers? If so, what are your take aways?

What books have you learned from?

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